By Alan Dymock
IT WAS a headline writer’s dream at the weekend as football’s pantomime villain Luis Suarez revealed his bloomers once again, embarrassing himself and everyone else associated with him by biting an opposition player, Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. Rightly, the papers were smeared with disgust. Sacking, suspensions and solitary were mentioned and the puns kept rolling.
Rugby cannot afford to paint itself as a sport where this would never happen for it is no shy, retiring innocent when it comes to biting. Indeed, some of the burly buggers have a proven to have an, ahem, appetite when it comes to gnawing on the opposition.
A Springbok bites a Kiwi
Tests between South Africa and New Zealand are often slobberknockers. Amidst the gusto, though, it can get a little bit more unsavoury than your average nudge, punch and tickle.
In 1994, during the second Test in a series between the two in Wellington, Johan ‘Le Beast’ Le Roux decided that chomping down on the ear of All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick was a totally sane, normal, tasty way of dealing with the celebrated hooker. The All Blacks won 13-9 in the close, niggly affair, with the blood-dripped Fitzpatrick celebrating a Series win.
Le Roux was sent home for his beastly behaviour and a 17-month ban brought an ignominious end to the South African’s international career.
Tetley Bitter and nibbles
In 1998 England and Bath prop Kevin Yates was cited (alongside his other two front-row colleagues) for a bite on the ear of London Scottish flanker Simon Fenn during a Tetley Bitter Cup showdown at the Rec.
It was later decided that Yates was guilty of the assault that meant Fenn required 25 stitches. He received a six month ban.
Having been dropped by England the prop moved to New Zealand, playing his rugby for the Hurricanes franchise. He was finally reinstated to England duty in 2007, just under 10 years since his last cap.
A 6 Nations snarl
In the final game of the 2012 6 Nations Championship between Ireland and England, quiet, unassuming hooker Dylan Hartley bit down on the finger of flanker Stephen Ferris.
Hartley had received a lengthy ban for gouging in 2007 (some 26 weeks) but was only handed a 8-week break in 2012, meaning that he was clear to tour in the summer with England, despite missing Northampton’s end of season charge.
Irish back-rowers must be delicious
Sisa Koyamaibole of Bordeaux Begles dined out on Declan Danaher’s bicep during an Amlin Challenge Cup rout in 2012 by London Irish in 2012. In October the No 8 was given a three-month ban in all competitions and told to keep his gnashers to himself. Hard to do when you used to be a Shark.
Points lost, bite marks gained
In December this season Plymouth Albion and Bristol were handed a suspended five-point deduction (meant for next year) and fined £250 each after a ugly full-team tear-up in their Championship fixture.
Among all the wind-milling limbs and nasty language, it was later adjudged, was Bristol prop Jason Hobson. What was he doing? Biting Bevon Armitage on the arm, according to officials.
He received a three-month suspension and only just made it back in time to see Bristol narrowly lose out on a play-off place for the off-season race to promotion to the Aviva Premiership.Like Rugby World? Subscribe to the magazine for the latest comprehensive content.